Crowding and lack of space for the adult teeth is a very common problem for orthodontic patients. In growing individuals the tendency is for the jaws to lengthen but narrow over time. In adults, this narrowing and crowding continues over an entire lifetime. Expansion or widening of the jaw is an effective treatment in certain growing patients with overly narrow or constricted jaws. Expansion is most effective before puberty when the jaws are still moldable.
Upper jaw expansion works by opening the sutures of the upper jaw and allowing new bone to grow. Expansion of the lower jaw involves uprighting tipped lower teeth, since there is no lower suture to open. Expanders can be cemented appliances (fixed or glued in) or removable (retainers).
How To Use
There is a key that is inserted into the appliance and turned as directed by the doctor. An arrow next to the keyhole indicates the direction of the turn. Some initial pressure or tightness for about 5 minutes should be expected. A space may open between the front teeth. This is a good sign, showing the suture is opening. The front teeth will generally drift to close that space or we wilt later close with partial braces.
Cleaning and Care of Your Expander
Cool water, toothpaste and a toothbrush are needed to clean your expander. If your expander is cemented in, brush it as you would your teeth, paying special attention to the bands that hold it in. Brush gently along the gum line to remove the plaque. If your expander is a retainer, take it out of your mouth and brush it with the same brush and toothpaste as you would your teeth. Plaque sticks to plastic retainers better than teeth, so extra brushing is important, especially around the top of the retainer and where the wires join the plastic. Brush often, at least three times a day and at least for two minutes at a time.
For Retainers Only
If plaque builds up on the retainer over time, it will dry and harden like tartar on the retainer and be difficult to remove with a brush. Denture cleaners like Efferdent or Polydent are effective in removing this tartar, follow directions on the package. Remember to leave the retainer in the cleaner for no longer than 1.0 minutes. Use once a week if needed. To economize, try lemon juice first to dissolve and loosen the tartar before brushing. You may not need anything else!
Getting Use To Your Expander
Speech is different the first few days with any orthodonticappliance, including expanders. Try practicing talking or reading out loud, saying "s" words to practice placement of your tongue. You will have a "jucier" mouth for the first few days, that's okay. If your expander gets food stuck to it while you are eating, try to take small sips after each bite of food to help wash the food down. Don't worry, after just a few days it will feel like an old friend!
Astoria Family Orthodontics
23-12 31st Street
Astoria, NY 11105
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Appointments & Info
Office hours are by appointment only. For more information or to make an appointment, call the office or use our contact form.
Monday 1:00 pm-6:30 pm
Tuesday 8:30 am-4:00 pm
Wednesday 1:00 pm-6:30 pm
Thursday 8:30 am-4:00 pm
Two Saturdays a month
8:30 am-1:30 pm
Closed Mon./Wed. 12:00 pm-1:00 pm
Closed Tues./Thurs. 1:00 pm-2:00 pm
Closed Fridays and Sundays